SOWETO TOUR by Taste of Africa,
The No Zoo-Like Tour, or rather a guided visit.
Soweto Tour by Taste of Africa, we offer a no zoo-like tour, we would rather have our guide disappoint you, through what you may believe is their lack of knowledge, regarding what you may have read on the internet, than restrict his, or her, expression, of how they see South Africa and our history, while allowing others in the community to interact with you.
This blog is aimed at giving the visitor an opportunity to understand the areas that we will cover during the visit, allowing less wasted time, by needing to listen to the information while experiencing the magic.
RATES: TRANSFER AND GUIDING, EXCLUDING LOCAL TRANSPORT, MUSEUMS AND LUNCH:
For transfer purposes, our prices are quoted ex Melville, our home base:
R 500 per person, ex Melville base. (single supplement of R250)
We encourage our visitors, who have their own transport, to use the self-drive option, here the guide, on appointment, will meet you at a BP Service Station, 500m off the N1 Highway, and take you to their home, where you will safely park your car, and proceed with the regular visit.
Self drive option, R 350 per person, (single supplement of R 150).
BP Service Station, Taste of Africa’s meeting point, by arrangement only.
Should the visitor reside in Melville, or other areas accessible to the Rea Vaya bus route, Taste of Africa will assist with directions.
For rates outside of this standard options. please enquire from Taste of Africa.
Excluded is Local Taxi fares & Meals for you and your guide, plus museum fees. Approx R 150pp.
As these are cash expenses we leave this responsibility to you, avoiding the temptation by others, to coerce the guide into a lunch venue, or for the guide to reduce the distance to save taxi fares.
My preferred lunch venue is the Nancefield Hostel, this will be the closest you will get to experiencing Africa, while in South Africa.
Taste of Africa takes you on a guided tour through Soweto, walking and using ‘Public Transport’, to keep you in the spirit of our commitment to the community, we will not support a Soweto Tour, that is a Zoo-Like Drive-By tour, we take the road not taken.
Taste of Africa considers a drive-by visit, where you only stop at the tourist sites, an insult to the local people.
Cedric and Nettie de la Harpe, have committed everything that they have done through Taste of Africa, to Radical Economic Transformation, and as South Africa’s ‘New Democracy’, goes through a difficult period, for #RET becomes the buzzword in Politics,
Passport to Soweto, a guide to allow South Africans to visit Soweto, without the use of a guide, is one of our initiatives, and part of our Radical Economic Transformation in the Tourism Sector.
To promote this initiative, Taste of Africa will include the Passport to Soweto guide book, to our visitors on this Soweto Tour.
If not using the self-drive option we will transfer you to your guides home, where possible, starting at 08:30, ex-Melville. If not near Melville arrangements will be made at an additional cost.
You will start at the guides home, and then walking the streets / using local taxi transport you, will move to corners of Soweto, where you will not see other tourists, until after lunch.
For the past eighteen months, the Visit Soweto with Cedric de la Harpe has become popular, but more so, with the sites and people I visit, so this visit, is now integrated into what I would do. As ‘Cedric’ uses his vehicle, he is able to cover greater distances, and get to little corners that this visit can’t.
Soweto Tour details
Our focus is getting you close to the people before we venture to the typical tourist route.
You are welcome to end the day to suit your time requirements, it is possible to end at 14:30 giving you time to move onto the Apartheid Museum, just let your guide know. This is not recommended, as it takes away from your Soweto experience, and takes you into the emotions of the Apartheid Museum after what will be a hectic day.
We do not include the Apartheid Museum, but guide will host you to the Apartheid Museum, and you can Uber back from the museum.
If you would prefer to have a sundowner with the locals, they would love it, please advise your guide early in the day.
Make sure your guide understands how free you are, and if you wish to leave early, always ask if you are going to miss something special.
AREAS THAT WILL BE COVERED:
We start out tour in Orlando East, officially the oldest Township on Soweto, dating back to 1932.
Rich inHistory, thanks to the Soweto Leader / Elder James Sofasonke Mpanza, and ANC / PAC political meetings: .
Cedric’s 2005 shebeen theatre is worth a read, it will give you an insight into Sofasonke and his people:
When we start our day in Orlando East, and our target will be to visit with John Mahapa, one of our ‘living museum’ heritage sites in Passport to Soweto.
Cedric defines John Mahapa as “From Boy Scout, to Freedom Fighter”
John, self-politicised as a junior school Boy-Scout, is part of the ANC and then split as an Africanist, arrested at 20 years old as part of the anti-pass protest, and then sentenced to Robben Island for 7 years in 1963.
Meeting John, changes Cedric’s life, as he sees South Africa from a different insight.
Taste of Africa has arranged that our visitor pays R 30 per person, from the interaction with John.
Follow Soweto’s history, from the early origins through to 1976.
Follow Soweto’s history, from the early origins through to 1976.
This Orlando East Township will take a few hours, all magic.
One of the most damaging pieces of legislation passed in South Africa was the 1913 Native Land Act, the greatest separation between the South African black and whites.
The Native Urban Areas Act, 1923 required Urban authorities to accommodate all black people that worked in their area, in Temporary accommodation. In 1928 the Johannesburg City Council established the Non European Affairs Department, (N.E.A.D.) and the Orlando East Township was their first project.
The small red brick houses that are seen in Orlando East are typical of the 3500 houses built between 1932 and 1934. It was only recently that I took notice of the different building materials used during this process. We have the red brick that is synonymous with the perception of the local whites when describing this development, yet closer scrutiny shows that they used the red brick, a slightly yellow/red brick, we also have two grades of cinder bricks and then the large cement block. The original houses consisted of two roomed houses, three roomed houses, and a number of them are semi-detached. When first built, the house only had one front door and the second doors were only added later. The enclosed porch that you see on that small ‘red brick’ house was first permitted in the 1950’s, subject to motivation and approval by the council.
As a South African, I could not believe, just how much development, had taken place in Soweto. My perception still had all houses in Soweto, as rows of these little red brick houses. I do not think that many white South Africans, would ever give credit to just how many of these houses have been developed. Not only developed, but developed on properties that they only rented, without having title deeds to these properties. They used their own money, and did not have access to loan finance, through the financial systems. I think they still find it difficult, to obtain financial assistance today. Where extensions take place, they build little by little, taking years to complete, living in the original house, and often the original house, remains fairly intact, in the inside of the completed house.
Us whites, were forever boasting, about what we achieved, during the years of ‘isolation’, the period when we had restricted sport contact, performing arts contact, and had to buy oil through the back-door, what an achievement. But look at the Sowetan community, just look at what they have achieved, while in isolation, and they are still in isolation.
This setting is magic, the red-brick houses with shacks of various shapes and sizes, different materials, the odd bit of colour.
An Original Match-Box House with a typically neat garden.
Just walking up and down the streets of Orlando will give you an experience that you will never forget.
By now you would have discovered that the community do not mind you taking photos,often calling out ‘shoot me’ to encourage a photo, it is because you are walking the streets and become part of the community that they welcome your presence. I do not suggest that you request permission, but should you see that some-one is reluctant, wave an apology, and back-off.
Always be prepared to show the locals the photo that you have taken, if you have a digital camera. Not only do the enjoy seeing the photo, but the children love the close contact with our guests. They will touch you and feel you.
While we are on that subject, I do not encourage our guests giving to children, or for that matter, adult beggars. Rather buy some fruit; or other items from hawkers. You will get an opportunity to donate to the youth, or aids groups, that we pass through. Also, on a few sites, we have individuals, making their time and homes available to you. Here a small donation is welcome.
If you feel obliged to give to the children, or the many adult beer drinkers, who will be pressing you for a few rand, it only makes it more difficult, for the guests who follow to get close to the community. The beggars start to shield you from interaction with the magic.
I was impressed with the cleanliness, of the streets and the properties. Most of the side-walks are swept and so neat, and many of these gardens are so nice. To this cleanliness we cab add the attention that they people give to their clothes and selves.
If I was a first-time visitor to Soweto, with no guide, to pull me around Soweto, as I entered Rathebe Street, off Mooki Street, I would just cool here for some time. Walk slowly, stop at the hardware store; sit down next to a local, just talk, and become part of the magic.
As you walk past one of the properties in Orlando East, the small two roomed red brick house, is often surrounded by eight to thirteen tin shacks, with hardly a passage to move through. Do not be afraid to accept an invitation to stop and talk to one of the communities.
The home owner, the occupant of the main house, rents a piece of ground out to the sub-tenant. They are probably paying between R 200 and R 250 per month. The home owner; possibly receives R2000 to R 3000 per month, towards her living costs. The problem however; is that the sub-tenants, do not pay for the electricity that they are using. Today, the council are building two rooms, in the back-yard, and encouraging the tenants to move off the property. Apparently, the economics of saving electricity; will warrant the investment.
Thirteen, maybe fifteen families, on a piece of ground, 15m X 20m, the original two-roomed house, not changed in 70 years, accept for the porch that was enclosed in the 1950s, and accommodates a sub-tenant, and the thirteen shacks of various shapes and sizes, that are build around the perimeter fences of the property.
In the far left corner of the property, no grass here, just the very red soil, is the one outside toilet, with the only source of water, the one water tap feeding off the toilet system.
The occasions, when a few quarts of beer are being consumed, by young men, and sometimes the older woman, sitting in the early morning sun, maybe playing drafts, or just chatting; is a magic experience for the visitors.
Always a friendly welcome for all, interaction between the groups, smiles, and confusion, as they all jockey for the opportunity, to have a few words with the visitors.
What is not obvious to the visitor, during this brief excitement, is just how structured life on these properties is. With thirteen families, and possibly 40 people moving in and out the commune, the toilet hygiene, and use of the washing facility, washing lines, and such, all needs to be shared and strictly controlled. Add to this the fact that there are five different language groups / indigenous groups, living in this commune; this commune; is an example to the rest of the world, on how to live in harmony.
The little children, moving around the property, seem to belong to the community, and it is difficult to distinguish, the mother child relationships.
As we leave Orlando East, we visit the market place on Station Street, bustling with activity.
Baragwanath Taxi Rank and Market
We leave Orlando East, using a local shared taxi to Kliptown, moving through the Baragwanath Taxi Rank, where it is reputed that some 1 million commuters move through per day.
There is always action and activity, as the traders attract the buyers with music and entertainment.
The Local Taxi trip is an experience, opportunity to interact with the commuters, and the payment system, is amazing.
FREEDOM CHARTER MUSUEM –
Cedric, exposed to the 1950s Soweto Political History, as a white South African, can no longer celebrate the Freedom Charter, this mindset is covered in his book, Divide & Rule.
Given that mindset, Cedric still loves visiting Kliptown, established in 1903, it was one of the few areas where whites, blacks, coloured Indians and Chinese lived together, owning the property.
The Jewish and Indian traders, were the main traders, including the Doctors and Chemists.
In the 1980s, most of the goods moving into Soweto passed through Kliptown.
During the 1960s, as part of the Apartheid structure, all the residential property was expropriated, and the whites needed to leave, the Indians were sent to Lenasia, the Blacks to Soweto, and the Coloureds moved to Eldo Rado Park, while Eldo Rado Park invaded Kliptown.
We take a short walk through the market place, the business district, the remnants of what is left of Kliptown, and visit Ouschun’s Place, a traditional beer-hall, where the visitor can buy a ‘carton, and taste the traditional beer.
Should a visitor wish to visit Regina Mundi, please advise the guide in the morning.
We do not promote the visit, most visitors do not enjoy the ‘must do’ tour, not allowing the visitor to experience the Church in private.
NANCEFIELD HOSTEL, 1950S TO PRESENT, –
The Nancefield Hostel, one of eleven such hostels built in the 1950s, to accommodate migrant male workers in the Johannesburg area.
There was one female hostel, situated between Orlando West and Meadowlands.
Prior to 1994, 3 000 males were accommodated in this Hostel, that stretches on both sides of the road. Today, family groups are accommodated, and we believe the occupants total 13 000.
From 1988 to 1992, the hostels were used by the system, to destabilise the local community, Zulu’s of the IFP group, attacked non-Zulus in the area. This was all part of the black-on-black violence, which some would claim was backed by the National Party, and targeted the youth of the PAC and other Black Consciousness groups.
Today, many non-Zulu’s would still keep away from the hostels.
Very few Zulus in the Hostel area, are able to speak English, part of the Colonisers suppression. I believe the English, used Welsh speaking people, to learn the Zulu language, and off that basis, the employers language skills were developed. In Kwa-Zulu Natal, all Employers, White and Indian, speak a form of Zulu, restricting the rural Zulu from needing to speak English.
If you move through the gap just past the toilets, keep right, and enter the first door on your right, into a games room and small shop area, ask the Sithole twins who own the shop if you ay have a look at their accommodation, you could buy beers and cold drinks here in compensation for their hospitality.
The hostel buildings, are divided into four sleeping rooms, of different sizes, a communal kitchen / living area, and toilets.
Do not venture deeper into the Hostel area.
The hostel conditions are in terrible condition, the occupants wanting the family units upgraded, and the Government, has intention to upgrade, but the end product, particularly in relation to cost, is far from reaching consensus.
Muthwa runs a very successful business, feeding hundreds per day, behind the stoves you will find a selection of cooked meat, from head meat to the innards, heart, liver, kidney, and pieces that I have never been exposed to.
In the shop, they will have a beef stew, sometimes chicken, served with pap, (their traditional porridge) and you can but a tomato and onion relish on the side.
We love to buy meat to braai, they sell various cuts to beef, including heart, liver, and sausage/wors, that you can braai yourself, Cedric prefers to use the staff member tasked with assisting in the bracing, and he contributed R 20 for his service.
Buy this with a small helping of pap, R 10, and tomato relish. Your meal seldom costs more than R 35 per plate.
Beers are available to buy, both in the Muthwa shop, and also in the little store, run by the Sithole brothers.
When braai-ing, you will receive your meal in a polystyrene plate, look after it, you will need to eat out of the plate, on occasions, every time Cedric eats there, he is provided with a wooden plate, one aspect that he would object to on principle, but has yet, has not.
This is Africa, and they cater for groups of people, eating from one communal plate, using your fingers. Should you have an issue, please ask the shop for a spoon.
Between the kitchen area, and the eating area, there is a sink, where you can wash your hands.
When you have cooked your meat, there will be a knife around, attached to an anchor of sorts, where you cut the meat into chunk size portions, Cedric would ask the braai assistant to please cut his meat, his hands are too soft to do so without a fork available.
The salt will be in a plastic bottle, also anchored, so pour a little into your hand, and set on a corner of the meat plate. When washing your hands, if you require a cloth, please ask one of the ladies working there.
This is your closest that you will get to Africa, while in South Africa.
TIME TO DECIDE:
It will be some time between 13:30 and 14:30, if you intend visiting the Apartheid Museum, it is not necessary to visit Vilikazi Street, and you can head directly to the AM from this point. (Remember, Apartheid Museum is not part of the tour, and you will need to arrange your own transport home)
This following can be done for those visitors who have the afternoon available,
OPPENHEIMER TOWER / CREDO MUTWA VILLAGE
Cedric has a passion for this visit, mainly due to the view from the top of the Oppenheimer Tower, and his close link to Credo Mutwa.
A word of warning, our guides are unable to avoid the local site guides aggression, and tendency to keep you as long as possible; please help our guides to move on, when you feel delayed;
ORLANDO WEST, VILIKAZI STREET MANDELA MUSEUM
Feel free to take my cell number, 082 565 2520, text me if you have any issue at any stage during the day:
Soweto and the people are my passion.